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In the past, budget watchers have had problems trying to track Mayor Jerry Sanders’ planned spending on his own office. His budget just included him, his chief operating officer and a secretary. Other employees, such as Sanders’ chief of staff and the various mayoral spokespeople whose names litter my stories, were listed somewhere else.
This year, that’s changing. Sanders’ proposed budget now has an “Office of the Mayor“, which lists nearly all the city workers under his direct authority.
“We merged it all together to make it clearer,” said mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing.
Sanders is proposing a $5.9 million budget for the Office of the Mayor with just more than 38 employees in 2012. The employees include city television workers.
Though this budget change makes sense, it becomes more difficult to track spending any time the city shifts services to a different department. I wanted to know how Sanders’ budget has changed year after year.
For help, I turned to former City Councilwoman Donna Frye. She put together a comprehensive list of budgeted mayoral staffers last summer during the successful campaign to make the “strong mayor” form of government permanent. Frye was opposed to strong mayor and Sanders was for it.
At my request, Frye used her formula to look at the mayor’s own 2012 budget. She concluded that Sanders’ budget held nearly steady from last year.
“It’s essentially a wash,” Frye said.
Sanders’ spokesman Darren Pudgil has disputed Frye’s formula in the past, saying that it didn’t take into account pay cuts taken by the mayor’s staff or various staff reorganizations.
This post will be my final People’s Reporter on the budget for the day. I enjoyed answering some of your questions and I’ll follow up on a few lingering issues next week.
You still can tell Liam Dillon what to do directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5663. You can also tell him what to do on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam